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MTV’s “True Life” Films Social Worker for Segment on Young Sex Offenders

Justin Raxter. Photo courtesy of Medill Reports.

National Association of Social Workers member Amie Eipers, MSW, LCSW, said a counseling session she had with a young sex offender was filmed for  MTV’s “True Life” series and could make the final cut of the episode.

“True Life” is a documentary series about the issues teenagers and young adults can face, including alcoholism, drug addiction and sexuality. The show’s producers hope “True Life” will subtly educate young people about these problems and offer them solutions.

“True Life” is following Justin Raxter, a 22-year-old college student from Loves Park, IL. Raxter was put on the sex offender list for dating a 15-year-old girl when he was 18.

Being on the list has affected his life in a negative way, according to this article in Medill Reports, a Northwestern University publication. He has been unable to find employment and goes to a community college to meet the terms of his parole. He was also charged with child pornography for having photos and videos of the girl, although those charges were later dropped.

Raxter told Medill Reports reporter Gina Harkins his life is ruined.

“I want to try to inform the public that not every sex offender is the same and not every sex offender should be treated the same,” he said.

That’s where Eipers came in. Eipers, who lives in Lisle, IL, said a “True Life” producer contacted her to offer counseling to Raxter and filmed the session.

Eipers, who worked in child welfare for a dozen years, said she believes sex offender list laws may be unfair for young people such as Raxter. They should not be treated in the same way as true adult sex predators that target children, she said.

“I know who these laws are intended for and it’s not the Justins of the world,” she said.

Eipers says she helps treat others in her practice like Raxter. For instance, one of her clients is a 30-year-old man who was put on the sex offender list at age 18 for dating a 17-year-old girl.

This man cannot get employment in his chosen field because he is on the list. He and his wife also had to change the location of a home they planned to build because it was too near a school, which would have violated court orders that he stay away from children, she said.

Eipers said she tried to get Raxter to work through his grief over being put on the sex offender list and missing out on career and other opportunities. She also encouraged him to find and cultivate positive people in his life who understand why he was put on the list and accept him.

“People are going to think things,” Eipers said she told Raxter. “You are going to have to go forward.”

UPDATE:  Betsy Forhan, executive producer of “True Life,” emailed SocialWorkersSpeak.org Feb. 18 to let us know it is too early to predict whether Eipers’ session with Justin Raxter will make it into the final episode. The episode will not air for another nine months to a year because they are still searching for a second subject to complete the hour-long segment.

“As you can imagine we shoot many many hours of footage for each character that gets boiled down to a 20-minute segment. But you know I have a soft spot for social workers in my heart so if it works for Justin’s story arc I’d like to see this scene included,” Forhan said.

To learn more about how social workers help young people navigate life’s challenges visit NASW’s “Help Starts Here” Kids & Families Web page by clicking here. SocialWorkersSpeak.org also  did a feature on “True Life”with Executive Producer Betsy Forhan. To read that click here.

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12 Comments

  1. Thank you for all you do.
    Millions of people are having their lives train-wrecked by these laws.
    Many innocent children of ex offenders are branded as lepers by all their peers, neighbors…simply because their parent is on the registry.

    Once a person is on the registry, they are outcasts from society. If a man such as the one in the story has children, all the parents will tell their child to STAY AWAY FROM THOSE PEOPLE, THEIR DAD IS A PERVERT, A SEX OFFENDER….

    Imagine, almost 800 THOUSAND people are on the registry now.. out of that 800 thousand, how many hundreds of thousands of children of these ex offenders are branded as outcasts?

    So then, how do these insane laws protect THOSE CHILDREN, THOSE INNOCENT CHILDREN WHO HAVE NEVER DONE ANYTHING WRONG?

    The insanity of these laws has to stop…..

    Citizens for Change, America
    http://www.cfcamerica.org
    L E T Y O U R V O I C E B E H E A R D !

  2. What has happened to the concept of the punishment fitting the crime? When a participant in a consensual teenage relationship is treated the same as an adult predator who molests
    prepubescent children, something is very, very wrong. Is there anyone anywhere who understands that we are going so far overboard in putting people on the sex offender registry that we may never find our way back?

  3. I agree that we are punishing these kids for something that is not fitting as a crime. I dated a guy that was 18 when I was 17. My mother was 18 when my dad married her when he was 26. The laws and parents who are “helicopter parents” have collaborated to create this monster problem. The key to this problem is consensuality. The girls need to step up and not take the path of innocence in front of the parents by ruining the life of someone they may have cared about.

  4. Kim, it wouldn’t matter if the girl “stepped up.” I know a young couple who were married; she was in the hospital having their baby, and a hospital “social worker,” putting together dates, etc. and realizing that they were not married and she was underage when the baby was conceived, called the police; he was arrested and charged. She begged and pleaded, but he is now on probation and a registered sex offender trying to support his little family when he can barely get a job or keep up with his probation’s costs or find them a decent place to live that doesn’t violate residency restrictions. Is this the kind of sex offender that you feel you need to be kept safe from? I’d like to say, “Only in Texas…,” but unfortunately that isn’t true either.

  5. Shelomith Stow leave it to you to wallow in “ROMEO” forums. Then try and use them as “bandwagon” to abolish the registry all together. Soon Romeos will not be prosecuted and will not appear on any registry. But since you and yours would not qualify as Romeos, your on a mad dash to get rid of the registry at all cost. C’mon Shelo, you cant hide from me, when all is shown in the light of day the public will have to ask themselves, “why those who dont qualify for registry removal “are not sitting in jail cell?”

  6. And here we find Valerie once more, leave it to Val to assume every sex offender is a John Couy. Well Val, I have news for you: not EVERY Romeo has been removed. I personally meet all four criteria under FS 943.04354 (removal from the registry), and guess what, my petition was STILL denied, so no, it’s not as easy as you make it out to be. But please, when the day comes that the last Romeo IS removed, let me know so I can be there when it happens.

  7. I believe the registry serves a purpose but that it is not utilized correctly. It doesn’t distinguish between the violent offenders, the predators and pedophiles and those that get caught up in other situations. For example, what about the young adult male who hooks up with the minor teen girl that has lied about her age on the social networking site, has a fake ID, paints her face and pushes her boobs up? Is he the same as the man who lures children into his home or pulls a knife on his date to rape them? I don’t think so…but the judicial system and the registry treat them the same.

    We have murderers and people convicted of violent assaults walking the streets. Why do we not have a registry for them?

  8. Damian there is a reason your petition has been or will be denied. You have made many enemies in the wrong places. Did you actually think I just ran across you one day on a forum?? Ya know kid I wont be with ya always, so ya need to listen when I speak..you have a big mouth and you have an uncanny way of getting on the wrong side of people who have the ability to turn your world upside down. Remember when I told you offenders can be their own worst enemies??? “Your the poster child”.
    Think about it kid, Florida is on a mad dash to cut its LE budget, if a true Romeo cant get off the registry in Florida? You arent getting off a registry anywhere..You need to “think” before you post. You obviously dont have any form of self control and the “powers that be” know that..

  9. PS Damian…you can never say you werent warned in spades..but you were still too stupid to keep your mouth shut and your keyboard in control..

  10. Hi Valerie, I filed a few years ago, way before you and I had any interactions, so please, don’t try to take credit for my being denied. Enemies? Who? Noone but you really pays me any attention. Also, of course you didn’t “run accross me one day on a forum”. I actually found you commenting, I responded, and we’ve been playing tit-for-tat ever since. Or are you implying you intentionally sought me out? Out of 56k offenders, I can’t imagine what you would want with lil old me. Take care Val, I know will.

  11. Okay, I want to say to Justin that I don’t see how what he did should have been counted as sex offender. I was 14 when I dated my 18 year old boyfriend. Videos may not have been involved, but same ages and we were good. I see you as a great guy. Singing and in school. Your a great guy! Keep you head up.
    Love Jadin Bree

  12. If you actually read his story, you’ll see Justin isn’t anything but a victim to the girl that used him and got him in trouble.

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